Agricultural Technology & Processes

Assessing the Efficacy of Integrated Management Strategies for Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in Indiana

Mariama Brown

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) caused by Fusarium virguliforme is one of the top five yield-reducing diseases of soybean. Management strategies for SDS, such as seed treatments and partial host resistance are available in the U.S, but these options by themselves are likely inadequate in providing optimal SDS management. A two-year study was conducted in northern and central Indiana to evaluate the effects of integrating seed treatment, cultivar selection and seeding population on SDS foliar and root rot severity. Seeds were treated before planting and a partial resistant and a susceptible cultivar were planted at different seeding rates. SDS root colonization was quantified and root rot and foliar symptoms were rated. Yield was calculated as bushels/Acre. Results show that a partial resistant cultivar with a seed treatment can significantly reduce soybean SDS root colonization. Our results support the need for an integrated management plan to reduce the effects of SDS.

Leveraging Causal Graphs for Blocking in Randomized Experiments

Abhishek Kumar Umrawal

Randomized experiments are often performed to study the causal effects of interest. For instance, the effect of a new seed variety on crop yield. Blocking is a technique to precisely estimate the causal effects when the experimental material is not homogeneous. It involves stratifying the available experimental material based on the covariates causing non-homogeneity and then randomizing the treatment within those strata (known as blocks). This eliminates the unwanted effect of the covariates on the causal effects of interest. We investigate the problem of finding a stable set of covariates to be used to form blocks, that minimizes the variance of the causal effect estimates. Using the underlying causal graph, we provide an algorithm to obtain such a set for a general semi-Markovian causal model.

Improving the Efficiency of Multi-Actuator Hydraulic Agricultural Implements through design of a Multi-Pressure Rail System

Jake Lengacher

Modern agricultural implements such as planters and bailers almost universally make use of hydraulic systems to transfer power from the tractor to the implement. Such systems have a drawback, however: efficiency. Traditional hydraulic load sensing systems suffer from extremely high losses when used to power multi-actuator implements with widely varied loads. To address this problem, the team has designed a novel implementation of a multi-pressure-rail system. This system greatly reduces throttling losses by adding a dynamically varied medium pressure rail, in addition to the traditional high-pressure supply and low pressure return rails. A supervisory controller minimizes throttling losses by intelligently connecting actuators to the ideal combination of pressure levels. The team used a purpose-built stationary test rig to test the controllability of this architecture in practice, and validate calculated average efficiency gains of 45% over state-of-the-art load sensing systems.

Environmental Science, Protection, & Policy

Identifying Design and Management Strategies to Optimize Tradeoffs in Restored Floodplains and Wetlands in Agricultural Watersheds

Dani Winter Lay

While nitrogen is essential to life, excess nitrogen (N) from agricultural production is causing algal blooms and associated dead zones and contaminating drinking water in the Mississippi-Ohio-River (MOM) Basin. To alleviate the impacts of excess N export, there have been calls for millions of hectares of wetland and floodplain restoration in the MOM Basin. Our knowledge of how different restoration strategies and designs impact N removal rates is far from complete. Furthermore, many of same environmental conditions that support N removal stimulate phosphorus release and GHG production. Maximization of N removal is critical for offsetting the opportunity cost of lost agricultural production and restoration construction costs, but this treatment should not be at the expense of other pollutants. The aim of our research is to identify design and management strategies for restored floodplains and wetlands that will maximize N removal while minimizing phosphorus release and GHG emissions.

Estimating the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Payback Period of Planned Offshore Wind Energy using Multiregional, Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis

Apoorva Bademi

There is a substantial projected increase in energy generation from offshore wind farms over the next three decades due to an increase in legislative commitments and funding from the government. Developing offshore wind as a reliable domestic energy source demands an impact assessment of the economic and environmental effects of constructing offshore wind farms in major lakefronts and coastal regions. In this study, the spatial economic impacts of planned projects are estimated by combining the NREL JEDI model with an input-output model of the US built with the Industrial Ecology Laboratory. We also use a GHG emissions dataset to estimate the supply chain emissions of installing offshore wind projects. These estimates provide an understanding of the time it will take for proposed cleaner energy projects to offset the environmental impacts of their manufacture and installation. This framework will also be used to identify which states may see the largest impact.

Experimental Validation of a Saltwater Disposal Well Energy Harvesting System

Antonio Masia

The project seeks to find and evaluate potential applications for a saltwater disposal well energy harvesting system (EHS) in oil and gas producing areas using current technologies. To accomplish this purpose, the project will design and build a test rig capable of measuring the performance of an energy-harvesting system in a controlled environment within a specified operational envelope. Experimental evaluations of the suggested system will take place. Finally, an investigation into a more efficient system will be possible.

Liquid brines are brought to the surface during oil and gas production. Brines are separated from hydrocarbons at the surface and reinjected for disposal into the same or comparable subsurface deposits. Class II wells may also be used to inject wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations. The project aims to implement the EHS into the reinjecting process.

Mixing Caused by a Single Bubble Rising in Confined Stratified Fluids

Pranav Mohan

In oceans, density varies with depth due to varying salinity, which captures myriads of pollutants such as plastics, rubber, etc. that drastically affect marine wildlife. The rising motion of a single or cluster of bubbles creates a vertical upflow that can transport the buoyant sediments to the surface for efficient waste removal. To begin realizing this complex multi-phase flow system, we start with a simplified problem of a single millimeter-sized air bubble rising in a 2.5mm confined channel. We performed a time-resolved stereoscopic 2D3C Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurement to characterize the bubble wake. Pure water and varying salt concentration were used to achieve a linear density stratification corresponding to Froude numbers (Fr) ranging from 20-40. Due to the large dynamic velocity range (60) for PIV, we enhance our cross-correlation algorithm with pyramid correlations. The rising bubble generates vortices that shed downstream and decay with varying timescale for different Fr. The wake of the bubble carries the higher density fluid to the top, which later releases from the wake to form the reverse jet. This process enhances the mixing causing destratification. The coherent structures and the jet are characterized as a function of the Froude number. The results from this work can be used in industrial application where stratified fluids need to be mixed.

Bioenergy & Biotechnology

Effect of Extractives on Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Pelleted Corn Stover

Xueli Chen

Water and organic extractable, non-structural compounds in lignocellulosic biomass are important to bioconversion processes due to their known inhibitory effects on enzyme hydrolysis. Here, we report on a detailed study of the composition and characteristics of extractives obtained during the processing of unpretreated pelleted corn stover and their effects on enzymatic hydrolysis. Extractives exhibit a adverse effect on enzymatic hydrolysis of microcrystalline cellulose, where the inhibition and deactivation of cellulases reduces glucose yields from 41% to 19%. In contrast, glucose yields (at 18%) from enzymatic hydrolysis at 6 FPU / g glucan of pelleted corn stover is improved by 50% compared to pellets (12% conversion) that have had the extractives removed. The difference in behavior between corn stover pellets and microcrystalline cellulose is attributed to the interaction between lignin in unpretreated corn stover and substances in the extractives that may decrease the nonproductive binding of cellulase enzyme to lignin.

TiO2-coated TiN Nanoparticles as Effective Photosensitizers for Photodynamic Therapy

Xiaohui Xu

Light has been widely utilized in cancer therapies. In photodynamic therapy, cancer cells are killed by toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) released by photosensitizers upon light irradiation. Nanostructures composed of gold-semiconductor are promising photosensitizers due to their strong absorption and high chemical stability compared with traditional organic photosensitizers. Nevertheless, the high cost and complex shape design of gold are two major concerns. Here, we replace gold with titanium nitride (TiN), and synthesize TiN@TiO2 core-shell nanoparticles for photodynamic therapy. No further shape design is required for TiN as its optical resonance naturally sits in the near infra-red wavelength range. Excitation of TiN@TiO2 nanoparticles by a 700 nm laser effectively produces ROS, driven primarily by hot electron transfer. An analytical model is developed to explain the observed phenomena. Considering the chemical inertness, biocompatibility and low cost of TiN, TiN@TiO2 nanoparticles hold great potential as practical photosensitizers for photodynamic therapy.

Approach towards Non-Invasive Blood Typing Method

Rishi Patel

In the USA, 17.9 Million Blood transfusions happen every year. Blood type matching is crucial for blood transfusion and blood donation. The conventional method uses blood slides, pricking needles, and a blood typing kit and takes about 15 minutes for deciding the blood group. However, in case of emergency, it is time-consuming to determine blood type using the conventional method of reagents. At blood donation camps, also it is a tedious job to determine the blood group of every donor using the blood typing kit. Pricking needles and slides used can also cause infection to the person performing these tests. Our main motive is to replace this tedious and time-consuming method with a non-invasive accurate and reagent-free method, using an optimum wavelength light source, photo-detectors, and controller unit for decision making of blood type from output mapping or intensity matching of the scattered and transmitted wavelength from the source to detector.

Photocatalytic Air Purification for HVAC Systems

Sudharshan Anandan

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is one of the most critical factors for human comfort and well-being; the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored its importance. CDC has suggested using UV disinfection to augment physical air exchange for improved IAQ. Consequently, air treatment methods like UV and Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) systems offer the potential for less-expensive, more efficient equivalent ‘air exchange’ than the physical air exchange that is typically associated with HVAC systems. Photocatalysis occurs when a material like TiO2 is irradiated by a specific wavelength of radiation (preferably UV in the context of air purification) which triggers a series of chemical reactions. These reactions generate reactive intermediates such as hydroxyl and superoxide radicals—molecules with unpaired valence electrons—that will degrade gaseous chemical contaminants, viruses (e.g., SARS-CoV-2), and a host of other pollutants. This work aims at using PCO reactors integrated into the HVAC systems to improve IAQ.